Posts Tagged Laura Lippman

Author Lippman stays in touch with the world

There are clues in Laura Lippman’s new novel, “Life Sentences,” of what it is like to be an artist who has achieved some measure of independence.

The book’s protagonist, Cassandra Fallows, is, like Lippman, a best-selling writer. At one point ,the character comments on how she had “become accustomed to how self-employment dulled the days, blurring all distinctions. Monday, Monday? She not only trusted that day, she rather liked it.”

Lippman, who appears Friday at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, acknowledges the necessity of being engaged beyond one’s own work.

“I need to remain in touch with the world,” she says. “I work by myself. I have a very pleasant life. And if I weren’t careful, I would be in such a (more…)

Tales of Lust, Greed, and Murder from Outstanding Women of Mystery

George’s all-original anthology showcases 18 stories by established women mystery writers and five by relative unknowns. While not every entry is a winner, the wide variety of styles and settings will please most mystery fans. Especially strong are Linda Barnes‘s “Catch Your Death,” a classic tale of love gone wrong told by an appealing narrator, and Stephanie Bond’s satisfyingly twisty “Bump in the Night.” In “Gold Fever,” Dana Stabenow fits quick characterizations, an exotic locale (Alaska) and a tidy plot into a few pages. Marcia Talley’s tightly written “Can You Hear Me Now” is modest in ambition—but who doesn’t like to see a rude cellphone user get his comeuppance? Among the newcomers, Z. Kelley’s “Anything Helps” is particularly notable for its charm. Other contributors include Carolyn Hart, Laura Lippman and S.J. Rozan. (Aug.)

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(Publisher’s Weekly, Apr. 27)

Michael Connelly – In the Shadow of the Master

(, Feb. 15, Diane Scharper)

For the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth, the Mystery Writers of America have published this collection of 16 of Poe’s best works with often-insightful commentary by well-known mystery writers. As editor Michael Connelly explains it, Poe’s death in Baltimore in 1849 is shrouded in mystery, as is much of his literary output. Ill, incoherent and dressed in clothes that were not his, 40-year-old Poe could have been mistaken for several of the protagonists of his short stories. Poe’s bad temper, excessive drinking and unpredictable nature would fit perfectly into the plots of narratives included here, like “The Black Cat,” “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” But Poe was much more than a reprobate. As Stephen King, Laura Lippman and others discuss their indebtedness to Poe, one realizes the extent of his greatness. Even literary giants like D.H. Lawrence, who admired Poe’s impassioned probing of the human soul, fell under his sway.

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Essays crow about Poe

(, Jan. 21, Dinesh Ramde)

“In the Shadow of the Master” (William Morrow, 416 pages), edited by Michael Connelly: The beating of the telltale heart still echoes beneath the floorboards. The cask of amontillado still eludes the wretched Fortunato. The raven still croaks, “Nevermore.”

No matter how many times you read them, Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales never seem to lose their macabre magic.

And so, in honor of the master’s 200th birthday, which was Monday, the Mystery Writers of America have compiled a volume of his works – from the best-loved to the more obscure – along with short essays by award-winning authors who cite him as their inspiration.

“In the Shadow of the Master” was edited by Michael Connelly and includes vignettes by mystery authors from Sue Grafton to Stephen King.

Their essays provide a range of insightful observations. Some authors reminisce about their favorite Poe tales, while others recall their first exposure to his stories. Still others have come back to Poe’s works after many years and describe how their reactions have evolved as they’ve grown older.

Most of the guest essays sparkle. Each is about two to five pages, a quick read, and each resonates with an unmistakable passion for Poe.

One author, Lisa Scottoline, likens high-school exposure to Poe to broccoli for teenagers – as something forced upon kids because it’s good for them. The lesson she learned after Poe’s “William Wilson” inspired her own evil-twin story. Eat your vegetables.

A particularly stirring vignette by Laura Lippman traces the legend of the Poe Toaster. He or she is the mysterious figure who celebrates Poe’s birthday every year by stealthily leaving three red roses and half a bottle of cognac on his grave in downtown Baltimore.

Lippman once kept watch at the grave and finally caught a glimpse of the figure. But she refuses to describe the elusive fan, respecting the person’s mystery the same way that person honors the king of mysteries.

All Poe’s classics are here: “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Raven.”

So are a number of other works, lesser-known but still distinctively Poe. “A Descent Into the Maelstrom,” “The Masque of the Red Death” and “Ligeia” may not have the same name recognition as his more famous stories, but they are no less gripping.

A number of the vignettes speak of an experience that certainly rings true for this reviewer. Poe was required reading in our sixth-grade class. When we were that young, his formidable vocabulary made some of his stories a little too complex to fully appreciate.

But rereading the tales as an adult brings a fresh sense of admiration. Few authors can match his disturbing detail, few can create such disconcerting worlds of madness.

That’s why the Mystery Writers of America named its annual award the Edgar Award.

The only thing that separates “In the Shadow of the Master” from any other Poe anthology is the 20 vignettes, most of which are worthy additions. Their collective effect is to create a sense of camaraderie, as though a group of friends has gathered in communal respect of Poe’s genius.

If you just want to read Poe, any anthology will do. But readers who have loved Poe since they first explored his works will feel a special appreciation for this volume.